Selling a house comes with expenses. Chances are that any house that you’re getting ready to sell is going to need some work, especially if it’s a house that has been in the family for many years.

For maximum payoff, we advise choosing projects that don’t require building permits and can be completed in 10 days or less. For more complicated projects, consider whether or not you will earn back the investment, but also the added costs and risks of postponing the house sale for an additional month or more.

Here are the top three house selling expenses that we advise sellers to consider investing in before listing a house.


Hiring a licensed inspector can cost between $350 and $600, but having a professional go through the property will give you a heads up on what repairs are needed and help you prioritize your spending. Yes, this is something that buyers usually pay for, but having an inspection report in hand and showing potential buyers that the house is in good shape is a big selling advantage, especially for older houses.

Repairs, Not Renovations

On reality TV, house flippers make huge profits by gutting houses and putting in fancy new kitchens, walk-in closets and massive bathrooms with Jacuzzi tubs. In real life, though, those types of upgrades don’t usually pay off. According to a report from the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, a $30,000 kitchen upgrade only adds about $20,000 to the selling price of the average house. A new roof, though, would pay for itself and then some (In our experience it is more about fixing a leak than replacing with a new, beautiful slate roof).

Curb Appeal

If the exterior of the house needs work, make that a priority. Prospective buyers have to want to come through that front door, so spend a little time and money sprucing up the front. New mulch around trees, trimmed hedges and fresh annuals in the flowerbed cost very little but will help attract buyers. Consider repainting the house or replacing vinyl siding if it looks worn.

If financing is a problem, you can always sell the house “as-is.” Skipping the repairs will help you sell the house more quickly, but probably at a much lower price than you would get if you put a little money into it.